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HNR 211: Service Class

Select Journal Entries

Journal Entry #1

My plan for service is by going on the trip to Mississippi. I really don’t know what to expect going into this, as it is a completely new experience doing something I have never done before. I am hoping to be able to have a clear understanding of the environmental injustice as well as the civil rights movement and how it affected the location. I am also hoping to learn more about how I can help decrease food insecurity in the country and what my part is in it. I think these forty hours in one week will be extremely beneficial in my understanding of service and learning together.

Journal Entry #2

Some of the biggest pitfalls that come with Service Learning are students who don’t attend the hours they committed to, it takes too long to train students, and the constant fluctuation of bodies creates a difficult time for Non-profits to have service learners. The majority of these also apply even more when the non-profit is focused on working with children. Working with the children leads to the children being confused when the volunteer doesn’t come back the following semester.

All of these common pitfalls make complete sense and are actually somewhat daunting when it comes to trying to avoid them. Just a quick glance at some things that will help prevent these pitfalls from occurring overall, not just individual to me, would include finding a non-profit the student is passionate about, and something that they would want to help with. This is an important distinction between just needing to get a certain amount of service hours.

For me personally, my biggest pitfall is the fact that I don’t have the time to focus on these long term direct service goals. The closest thing I am passionate about is helping others but I simply don’t have the time for this. Due to this reasoning I decided to do a week in Mississippi of service helping others in a quick training and quick goal achieving on the small term. I won’t be creating bonds with children but helping make sure veterans are on their feet. I believe by picking my specific agency being on the alternative break truly helps prevent me from becoming one of these pitfalls that were previously discussed.

Journal Entry #5

When looking at the different charts that are available on the list, I think the closest one to Back Bay Mission is the nonprofit chart. We got to meet the executive director as well as people who had been on the board of directors and so forth. I also think this makes the most sense because all the people on our worksites reported eventually back up to the executive director. This makes sense for a non-profit, especially one with as many different areas as BBM. They need to have heads of each area but should have one person to make sure everything stays on the right track and that person is the executive director. This would put me as the volunteer at the complete bottom of the chart which is how it should be! There is room to grow in the organization if you stay for a while but you don’t have to and there should be any gaps to fill because of all the different directors there are. This chart of leadership works quite well with the majority of non-profit organizations.

Journal Entry #6

The budget for Back Bay Mission is extremely transparent. Their revenue was a total of $1.81 million with money coming from gifts, program fees and earnings, investments, private grants, and public grants and contracts. Their expenses totaled $2.07 million with spending going to programs and services, management and general, and fundraising and public relations. They also have listed their assets which total $4.3 million, as well as smaller grants that totaled $31,000.

Their entire budget is extremely transparent. I understand why they were able to spend so much, because they need to. When at Back Bay they have a campus of buildings that they must uphold as well as help fee and service the unsheltered on a large scale. It is through all of this that their spending being in the millions makes complete sense.

The application of the budget keeps them very close to a $0 profit. This makes sense with them being a non-profit organization. While they obtain a lot of money they put all back into the organization in order to help ensure that people are getting the help they need. Back Bay Mission is extremely transparent with their funding allowing the public to view which helps ensure that there is no corruption in this large non-profit.

Journal Entry #7

My service has already ended for this semester. With it being a one week event of service in Mississippi, there’s not much time to start really big projects or anything like that. What I am able to report that is done and undone, is that a house now is painted, drywalled, and stairs built for them. That is what I got accomplished in a week. The house still needs a lot of final touches for it to be complete, but luckily I know that there are service groups that will come and complete it. I was able to thank some of my mentors on my final day in Mississippi, and I hope to be able to come back to Back Bay Mission next spring break!

Service Reflection

A requirement for the Honors Program at Heidelberg University is the completion of forty community service hours completed in a single semester. Throughout a regular semester, I do not have the time to regularly volunteer anywhere; however, I did have an available spring break. This meant I got to complete my necessary community service hours by going to Biloxi, Mississippi and volunteering at Back Bay Mission, a non profit organization looking to help and work with the unsheltered. It is through the preparation for my community service, the action I completed during my community service, and my reflection afterwards that has helped me fulfill the Honors program mission statement.

The first step to completing the forty hours was the preparation that had to be put in beforehand. Once I had figured out that I was going to Mississippi for my community service hours there were a few things that I had to complete. First was getting in contact with the student organizer of the trip so that I had a “mentor” for proof of my work to the class. I then had to attend a meeting where we discussed what our strengths were when it came to building. I had very little when it came to different strengths, as I had never built a house or done any kind of repairs before in my life. In this meeting we also did ice breakers with each other to start to get to know each other so that we could work more closely together and have stronger communication and relationships. This meeting allowed Biloxi to run extremely smoothly. Also in preparation for this service, we were briefed on the different jobs and possibilities that would be available to us when we arrived at the service area. Building houses, repairing houses, working in a soup kitchen, a day center, and a good pantry were all possible areas to work. There was quite a bit of preparation to make the service a success and I would say it was definitely worth it.

After all of the preparation work, I finally was able to complete the forty hours of community service. I worked in two different areas during my time in Biloxi: working on building a house and working at the soup kitchen. Working on the building of the house I had two main jobs: cleaning the house with sponges and building stairs for the front and back of the house. At first I did not understand why I had to wipe off all the dirt and dust that had accumulated on the house over time. It wasn’t until I saw people start to prime and paint the house that I realized why it had been a necessity. If I had not washed the house at first the paint would have possibly not stuck or it could have looked bumpy and gross after being painted. It was because of my cleaning of the house that we were able to successfully paint the house and ensure that the paint job looked as clean as possible. Working on the stairs was a whole new experience. I spent three and a half days of community service working on cutting, building, and installing two sets of stairs onto this newly constructed home. I had to learn how to do every single step, literally, for those stairs and it was worth it. When I worked in the soup kitchen I simply helped make some of the food before lunch and then mainly helped serve the food. This was an enjoyable experience because the unsheltered would talk to me and tell me about their lives, and I loved listening to the many different stories that were told down there. The actions I took during my forty hours of community service opened my eyes to understand people on a deeper level entirely.

There was a lot of reflection over the week that the community service hours were completed, but since then I have reflected greatly and continuously on my experience at Back Bay Mission. This trip has helped me realize what kind of mindset is needed when working with the unsheltered population. We have to be willing to learn, to listen, and to know that these are people too. At the end of the day they could be just like someone you know or have a similar story, they are people. The dehumanization of the unsheltered through the media and the government have made a lot of people forget that the unsheltered are people and not freaks of nature. I also have made the realization that I want to continue helping others in any shape or form for as long as I possibly can. When it comes to community service I gain a sense of fulfillment after doing so many hours. However, this fulfillment is never satisfied and I want to keep working and to keep doing service and helping others. I believe that through my own actions that I will be able to at least help a few people in this world.

Through action, reflection, and preparation of my community service hours, I was more accurately able to fulfill the mission statement of the Honors program. Through community service I have found a higher purpose for myself. I want to keep learning the different ways I can help different communities. To be able to open your eyes and see a better world that you helped build is now the goal because of the forty hours of community service.

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